Interview mit Nikitas Kissonas im Juni 2015
ragazzi: At first please talk about your development as a musician. First steps with instruments, first inspiration, what do you heard in the lounge of your parents? Did you go to music school? First bands? Do you have studied music?
Nikitas: I started the guitar at the age of 14 when I put my fingers on a classical guitar my brother owned because he had tried to learn it before. At the time I enjoyed mostly classical music, specially the romantics. Then I found by chance Camel and their album Nude. I fell in love with it. I thought it was classical music with rock instruments. The local music store and people I met later on did the job of introducing me to the prog rock space. However, until today Camel is still my favorite band in a so intense way that I consider myself the only true and loyal fan of them and specially of Andy Latimer (everybody needs a hero! hehe). Throughout the years I studied a lot of music (guitar, theory, composition etc.), did a master in composition, completed all courses on guitar and theory in Greece and now I am intrigued on anything that tries to be special and innovative or anything that is primitively genuine. I joined many bands but the two that stands out as the bands that I learned a vast amount of thing in them are Verbal Delirium and Yianneis.
ragazzi: "Suiciety" is a concept work. Please describe the work from idea to release. Is "Suiciety" a parable of the currently situation in Greece too?
Nikitas: The stories I try to tell through my songs are always parabolic but not autobiographical as well. However, since they all derive from the same person similarities with my real life will occur. Suiciety is a concept album but it is not about Greece. It is about modern society in general. It is a story of child that is brought up by strict moral values implied by society itself through various forms, via parents, teachers, priests, political leaders, psychoanalysts. The now grown up isolates himself until he finds his own moral values with the help of a mentor that stood next to him in all his tough moments. Then the grown up makes the decision to expose himself to society revealing the clear truth he has discovered. The society is blind and deaf though and cannot listen. It is busy being a society. Inevitably it collapses and under the ruins the voice of the hero is still heard crying to be heard. It seems like a moral story but it isn't. Obviously, people who have lived in internal caves will understand it more deeply.
ragazzi: How do you compose and arrange your songs? Your songs all got different characters. What are your influences and it is a long way to find the final arrangements of your songs?
Nikitas: I always compose on the guitar. After that I arrange it in my head. Then sit on my computer and try to reproduce what was in my head. Then experiment and change things in order to sound more interesting to me. That last part takes the longest time. I like my songs to grow inside me and finalize them only when I feel it is time and that more thinking will just destroy the core of the music. My major influences are the 70s progressive rock movement, in all its aspects, and contemporary classical music towards its more avant garde expansions of it.
ragazi: The compositions on a high quality level. There are Influences from classical music. Do you grow up with classical music? Is you musical work you daily job or beside it? What is you general thinking: I want to write a Progressive Rock album - or - want to make MY music?
Nikitas: (I answered some of the questions above)
My daily job is teaching music.
When I write music I just write music. I have written a lot of different styles, from folk to avant garde, from choir music to string quartets and from music for solo instruments to symphonic stuff. However, when I decide to make an album I then decide what the character of the album will be. In the future, all the styles above will be recorded in various forms. I aim to variety and not reproducing a specific sound I "found". On the other hand, the future is unknown.
ragazzi: Progressive Rock is a language of its own with a lot of different meanings. What is Progressive Rock to you? What do you prefer inside prog? What in music generally?
Nikitas: Nowadays, prog rock has three meanings. The first is the reproduction of the 70's prog rock sound, the second is innovation and the third is fun. The second is more seldom of course but there are great bands that expand rock music in a very amazing and promising way. I tend to define the first as retro-prog. Some bands that doesn't really do both but add now and then some odd time signatures or expand their simple songs up to 30 minutes are, in my view, rock 'n prog bands. So, for me there are these three categories. To be honest I like all three of them, at different moments of course. I cannot but show my admiration though to the innovators or at least those who try to be.
ragazzi: What are your manual tastes as a guitar player - technical play, experimental approach? What are your guitar player idols? Do you play other instruments too?
Nikitas: My top three favorite guitarists are Andy Latimer, Robert Fripp and Jeff Beck. So, what I like on a guitarist is the ability to play on the guitar the simplest melody in a way that will make you weep, to experiment with the effects and musical technique-language the guitar can provide and inspire and the ability to create magic simply by "plugging 'n playing". My main instrument is the guitar. I consider myself a good bassist too. Beyond that, I can find myself around the piano and keys and some other instruments too butů not really.
ragazzi: How do you find the contact to the other musicians working on "Suiciety"? Your friends? Or colleagues you ask for cooperation?
Nikitas: Well, it is the era of the internet and I took advantage of just that. Of course I tried to reach some big names from the present and past but with no luck. So I turned to the younger generation and after all I think that it was for the best. Apart from my friend Nikos Zades I didn't know any of the other guys. However they all collaborated with their heart and top-notch professionalism leading to the amazing results you are familiar with. The whole procedure is something I like narrating when I find myself between musicians. The only person though that I was determined to have on board was Joe Payne with whom we became good friends since he was the only one with whom I met and recorded his parts together. The experience living with The Enid for few days is something to be unforgettable.
ragazzi: Anything in your heart no one ask you about and you want to say it right now?
Nikitas: Ask me again in ten years. I might be more brave!
ragazzi: How are the reactions from press and fans? What do think your family and friends about your music?
Nikitas: So far, the reactions are great and very encouraging. I am independent of label so it is very hard for me to reach press. But luckily some reviewers and websites are above that and they agreed to review my album or they found about it themselves. I was twice happy when I read all the positive comments in them. Greece has not got a vast amount of lovers for this kind of music. Nevertheless, the circle of music lovers that found my album is being very supportive and I am very optimistic about the future.
ragazzi: What are your future plans? What can we expect from you? Will there be more music by you?
Nikitas: Of course there will be. I have already started the preparations of my next album, which will be the Greek album of Methexis. More details soon, I hope! More than that I am trying to organize some concerts presenting Suiciety in its entirety plus a second part where we will play stuff from the first album and probably the next as well. I did a concert last April presenting Suiciety as a show with Jargon (of Verbal Delirium) as the lead singer and performer plus 11 musicians, three of which were Nicolas Nikolopoulos and George Mouchos from Ciccada and Nikos Zades plus animation and video projection. The show went very well but it needs to be repeated some more times in order to find its matureness. I hope I will find financial support for these on the road.